How to Surf an Alaia Surfboard – Paddling


If you’re interested in riding an Alaia surfboard this article will help you understand how to paddle them in order to catch waves more effectively. This is part of a larger manual which details the entire alaia shaping process including tips for riding them. If you’re interested in the rest of it you can visit our website where it’s on sale for $12. Anyway, here’s the paddling section:

You’re probably pretty excited about getting out there with your board and you should be. Here’s a word of warning though. Paddling and surfing an alaia is quite different then doing the same on any modern board. Expect it to be difficult. Here are a couple of tips that might make your experience easier.

First, go to a spot that has actual waves. Riding this stuff in mush is not ideal. If the wave doesn’t pack at least a bit of power, good luck catching anything.

Because of the lack of buoyancy relative to a normal board, you’ll need to take off more in the pocket. If you’re riding a Paulownia board this isn’t as applicable because they do float better then hemlock, pine, or other alternatives. Next, and because alaias don’t float nearly as well as the board you’re used to, keeping it under you when paddling can be a struggle and the only solution is to practice. You’ll get used to it with time.

However, one thing we’ve noticed at first is that kicking tends to make catching waves more difficult. This is because as you kick (especially with a less buoyant board) the board gets pushed down by your knees and legs. Instead if popping right back under you like a foam board would, alaias tend to shimmy their way from side to side back up to the surface. For you, this can translate into a difficult time keeping the board under you as you paddle. If you can get away with it, use only your arms to paddle at first. Like I said, this isn’t the case with Paulownia as much, but it is with other types of woods.

To paddle in to a wave you need to start your paddle a bit earlier than with a normal board. You’ll notice that the faster you paddle the more the nose rises and the more you and your board rise, allowing you to catch a wave.

Finally, if you’re just not getting the hang of it on your first couple tries, consider using some swim fins and lying down. Alaias are tons of fun to ride prone as well. If you’ve ever fooled around on a body board and enjoyed it you’ll love this. Alaias go noticeably faster than any board you’ve ever tried and the fins will help you get used to catching waves with it.

Hope that helps get you started. Like I said, if you’d like to learn more please visit our website at the link listed below or search PapaKai in Google.


Jeremy Moncur

-Papa Kai-

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